Rescue Board bomb squads finished unplanned bomb disposal efforts in the Männiku Quarry near Tallinn on Friday. Experts found and neutralized over 300 explosive devices in two weeks.
Excavation work in the Männiku Quarry has reached an area where WWII munitions were destroyed during the start of the Soviet period in Estonia. The work done back then was so shoddy that Rescue Board bomb disposal specialists had to be called in to ensure the safety of workers today, "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Saturday.
"We are seeing various explosive devices from Soviet times or right after the war, from when Soviet troops were disposing of them here. They did a relatively poor job of it in that whatever was propelled into the air from the blasts was left wherever it landed," said Vladimir Zabellevitš, chief bomb disposal specialist for the North Estonia Bomb Squad.
"They were likely trying to destroy the old munitions by piling it up with charges on top. And whatever was left after the blast was left. We're picking up after them now," he added.
The expert said that while all explosive devices are dangerous, munitions already fired from a weapon or that failed to detonate during disposal are especially hazardous.
"We have a mix of very different munitions here. We have Russian, German, French – a real mishmash of devices. Everything the Soviet Union could gets its hands on after the war is scattered around the place," Zabellevitš said.
The bomb squads sifted through 11,000 tons of sand and found 337 devices. There were days that produced 50 explosive devices and situations where work had to be reorganized for safety reasons.
"They are a danger to our staff, our clients and people who wonder around the area, and while a mining area does look interesting, there are dangers here we urge people to consider," said Aare Koll, CEO of quarry owner AS Silikaat.
Koll said that many people who come to explore the quarry fail to consider that sand is very collapsible and getting caught under a sand slide could have tragic consequences.
The Rescue Board urges people not to touch explosive devices they find and immediately call the 112 emergency hotline to report the find and its location as accurately as possible. There are various ways of marking finds. One option is to position the device using a smartphone by attaching GPS coordinates to a photograph sent to the Alarm Center. Bomb disposal specialists will then collect and neutralize devices as soon as possible.
Estonia has four bomb squads on 24-hour call and ready to react at a moment's notice. Rescue Board bomb squads received 1,561 calls in 2019 and found and defused 3,406 explosive devices.
In 2015-2017, a week of intensive search efforts each year uncovered 3,988 explosive devices in Männiku.
Editor: Marcus Turovski